The University of Chicago Medicine Vascular Ultrasound Laboratories use advanced diagnostic tools to quickly and effectively evaluate patients. Our vascular laboratory was among the first group of vascular laboratories in the nation to be awarded accreditation by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories, which demonstrates our commitment to exceptional patient care.

In addition to our IAC "Accreditation," our imagining technologists are all board certified. Our imaging techs regularly collaborate with vascular surgeons in order to provide accurate diagnoses of complicated vascular conditions. While primary care physicians and vascular surgeons make up the majority of patient referrals, we welcome referrals from a wide range of specialities. Because vascular disease is complex and is throughout the body, we get patient referrals from podiatrists, nephrologists, transplant surgeons and more

Vascular testing is often used instead of an CT angiography when a physician needs detailed information when diagnosing any type of arterial disease or before surgeries to evaluate a patient's vascular condition. The advantage of duplex (Doppler plus image) testing over angiography is the ability to provide information about the location of disease as well as the overall effect on the rest of the patient's circulation.

Common Vascular Lab Tests

Our vascular lab is dedicated to evaluating the arteries and veins in the body, and examining how blood flow is moving to and away from the heart. We use tests with ultrasound, which takes a picture of the inside of your body, to check for blockages in your arteries or veins. We put gel on your skin and move a transducer back and forth over your skin, and the transducer can show us if there is anything blocking blood flow. 

 

With ankle-brachial indices, a blood pressure cuff is put on your ankle to determine how much blood is getting to your legs. During this exam, we check your ankle blood pressure and look at something called waveforms, which can show the blood flow to your legs. The ankle blood pressure and the waveforms help identify if there is any blockage preventing blood flow. 

During the exam, you will have to remove your shoes, socks and pants but we will give you a hospital gown to wear, and it should take about 30 minutes to complete.

For atrerial duplex exams, we use ultrasound to check the blood flow of the arteries in your arms and legs. During this test, you will have to take off your shoes and socks for the exam and may be asked to remove off your pants and shirt, but we can give you a hospital gown or shorts to wear if you prefer.

The exam is done after arterial bypass surgery to make sure that the new vein/artery graft stays open. You will need to lie down on a bed while we perform the test and it should take about one hour to complete.

For carotid duplex, ultrasound is used to examine the carotid arteries on both sides of your neck to study how well the carotid artery is carrying blood from the heart to the brain. This test will determine if plaque (a fat that builds up in the arteries) is blocking your carotid arteries.

During the exam, you will need to lie down on a bed and turn your head to one side, and it will take roughly an hour to complete.

For venous duplex, we use ultrasound to look for blood clots in the veins of your arms and legs that can block the flow of blood to your veins.

During this exam, you will have to take off your shoes and may also be asked to take off your pants and shirt, but we can give you a hospital gown or shorts to wear if you prefer. The test will take about an hour to complete and you will be lying on a bed.

Additional Venous Testing

Vein mapping is done to help us understand the size of your veins before undergoing bypass surgery or dialysis.

Testing for varicose veins (veins are large and twisted) can be in any part of the body but are most often in legs and feet. These exams are done to determine whether or not valves are closing properly in your veins. This can take between one to two hours to complete.

During the abdominal arterial duplex test, your technologist will use an ultrasound to look at the lower portion of your aortic artery where blood flows from your heart to your legs. They will often be looking for an aneurysm. Aneurysms form when arteries become weak and enlarge like a balloon being inflated. 

During the exam, you may be asked to loosen your pants and lift up your shirt to show your belly for better results during the test. You will be lying down on a bed and may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. 

You will not be able to eat or drink before this test. This exam should take about one hour but can take longer if your belly is filled with gas.

 

 

For renal arterial duplex testing, we use ultrasound to look for any blockages in your kidneys and their arteries.

During the exam, you may be asked to loosen your pants and lift up your shirt to show your belly for better results during the test. You will be lying down on a bed and may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. 

You will not be able to eat or drink before this test. This exam should take about one hour but can take longer if your belly is filled with gas.

 

 

For mesenteric arterial duplex testing, we use ultrasound to look at the arteries to your stomach and intestines.

During the exam, you may be asked to loosen your pants and lift up your shirt to show your belly for better results during the test. You will be lying down on a bed and may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. 

You will not be able to eat or drink before this test. This exam should take about one hour but can take longer if your belly is filled with gas.

Food & Drink Instructions

If you are having an abdominal, renal or mesenteric exam, you cannot eat or drink for 12 hours before your appointment. Abstaining from eating or drinking before your test lowers the amount of gas in your belly and allows us to get the best test results. Most exams are done early in the day, typically around 8 or 9 a.m., but If you eat or drink before your tests, the vascular lab may need to reschedule your appointment

If you have a prescription medication that your doctor recommends you take at the same time every morning, you may take your medication with a small amount of food or water (whatever you need to take the pill).

About Your Vascular Lab Results

By logging into to our MyChart patient portal, you can see any test results within 4 to 7 days after your test. If you have any problems seeing your test results, please contact the doctor who ordered the test. 

You should expect that your test results are written in medical language for doctors. Because you may feel concerned or worried when you do not understand your test results, we recommend you talk with your doctor or health care provider before looking at any test results.